06/10/2013 08:59 EDT | Updated 08/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario, Alberta fund managers to buy European cinema chain in $1.5-billion deal

LONDON - Two Canadian public sector pension plans have agreed to buy Vue Entertainment, a U.K.-based cinema operator that has grown rapidly over the past three years through several acquisitions supported by its private-equity investor.

Ontario-based OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corp. say their offer gives Vue an enterprise value of C$1.48 billion — about double what Doughty Hanson paid in 2010 when it bought the cinema operator.

Vue chief executive Tim Richards said OMERS Private Equity and AIMCo share in his company's vision of growing through innovation and strategic acquisitions.

"As the company moves forward, I am confident that we will do so from a position of real strength," Richards said in a joint statement.

Mark Redman, the senior managing director and head of Europe operations for OMERS Public Equity, described Vue as a "a best-in-class business" and added AIMCo is a "like-minded" institutional fund manager.

"Our combined ownership gives Vue the distinct advantage of patient capital and deep pockets for organic and acquisitive growth," Redman said.

AIMCo chief executive Leo de Bever said the Alberta-based fund manager considers Vue an important investment on behalf of its clients.

"AIMCo is excited to be partnering with Tim and his team, alongside OPE, to support Vue's ambition to be one of Europe's leading entertainment companies," de Bever said.

The seller is Doughty Hanson, a European private equity firm which says it will receive 935 million British pounds for Vue.

Doughty Hanson has supported acquisitions that have more than doubled the number of cinemas and screens owned by Vue since December 2010.

Vue currently has theatres in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Taiwan.

The deal is expected to close in late July.